Governor Pete Ricketts opened up the Nebraska Chamber Economic Development Summit Tuesday afternoon in Lincoln with details on how his team is preparing for the upcoming 2019 legislative session, the growing demands for Nebraska businesses, and the challenges facing legislators next year.
Ricketts said topics such as generating medicaid expansion, balancing the budget, and reducing property taxes are all on his radar for the upcoming legislative session. However, he’s aware there will be obstacles to quickly passing bills – especially any bill involving decreasing property taxes, “Now, part of our challenge to getting any sort of tax bill passed is getting those 33 votes in the legislature – a super majority. And we know there are people who don’t believe we need tax relief and people who don’t want tax relief.”
Another feat includes fitting the newly passed medicaid expansion into the budget.
“That’s going to be about a $50 million dollar, to start with, bill for the first year of operation. That’s going to have to fit into the budget like everything else we have,” Ricketts said. He warned expanding medicaid will reduce resources for other programs, since he opposes raising any sort of taxes in the upcoming session.
The Governor also addressed a growing hazard for Nebraska businesses: attracting and developing a skilled workforce. Ricketts said his administration is working on resources to introduce middle school students to skilled jobs while also pushing students into technology and innovation fields.
One of the growing problems for businesses is filling open jobs, and Ricketts says that can be solved by lowering taxes, attracting young people to the state, and connecting them with the growing job demands.